Illustration courtesy of RiDleY
For Caterly, as soon as she committed to taking care of Little Guy a weight lifted from her. She took relief in the fact that she had a companion, like a dog or a monkey that liked water — or a cross between the two.
Anywhere she was she’d be thinking about him. She’d be working on her research in and out of the water. Work continued on the computer, in the ocean or the streams leading into the ocean, and she’d be thinking, “I have a toddler.”
Little Boy wasn’t a pet but more like an adopted baby after years of trying to have her own. A thing is just as revolutionary as childbirth was finding this gem of a creature.
Cat stopped going out to bars on occasion to meet guys for casual conversation or a date. They would come and go without fanfare. She was a recluse regardless, caught up in her world of research and writing. But now she cared for Little Guy. She could go for shorter periods of time and leave him like a kenneled puppy but not for long intervals. Or at least she didn’t want to. He was pretty fun to be around.
She forgot about being a loner because now she wasn’t one. She could stop trying to be something she wasn’t. After her parents died when she was younger she had a series of events that followed. She lost contact with her first love and then her Granny disappeared a couple of years ago when they gathered all the Infinites from around the world and through them in work camps. Who wouldn’t be a loner after all of that?
There’s nothing worse than being told by everyone that I’m introvert. Why do I need to get out and be with people when what makes me feel good is a quieter life? Though she had to admit that when she was with people, she was fine — she wasn’t shy or anything she just liked her alone time too.
Now, after the first month the fear dissipated with Little Guy. She became fascinated with his charm. Her thoughts were interrupted as she heard a small sound — a familiar humming sound, Little Guy waking up from an afternoon nap. He liked to sleep it helped him grow.
She had purchased a crib for his bed just like for a child. He would have rolled off otherwise and that way she could keep him contained while he slept for his safety.
She walked in, and Little Guy stood at the railings humming. He wanted to leave the crib. He looked at her happily and hungrily. He liked to eat a lot. It was that time again.
When she first brought him to her place, he was weak and sickly from food poisoning or some pollution in the oceans. She had tests run to see why he was so sick — a luxury of being a Marine Biologist. She still couldn’t find his species anywhere in all the journals. Looks like I might have discovered a new species. But she also discovered a high dose of mercury in his system. She had to feed him fish and foods without toxins so he could regain his health. Daily she saw improvement. She ate a natural and healthy diet herself so she knew the nutrition and pure form of foods he needed.
He raised two arms and moved webbed fingers indicating he wanted her to pick him up. With gentle hands, she swung him over the rails — not even bothering to lower them.
He had an alert scrutinizing look on his face and a more emotional expression each day. He would open the slits on his buggy eyes wider and compress his mouth where his lips were not. He’d strain his legs as if to strengthen them getting ready to walk concentrating on moving and probably moving fast. About a week ago, Cat was surprised to see him pull himself up on the rails as a prop. Dang, he’s developing just like a toddler. With those limbs, it won’t be long before he’ll walk. What am I going to do with him then?
She thought he was a human boy with all the moving, expressions, and grasping, how old is he? She still didn’t know, but he had already put on 10 pounds in the last month and grown a couple of inches. At this rate, he’d be full-grown. Being an amphibian, or a mammal like a whale, she knew the rate of aging was similar to a whale. Is he going to be as large as a whale? What would she do with him then?
He liked to go in the bathtub. She had pure well water that streamed in her plumbing, and he loved taking a bath in warm water. He also played in her saltwater pond outside. She had that water pumped in from the close by ocean. She used it often for her research projects yet Little Guy she didn’t feel was a project. That sounded so cold and uncaring.
After she fed him his favorite. Dried tuna and seaweed, he gulped down goat’s milk as the most easily assimilated type of milk she could think of without milking a whale. Then she let him play in the bathtub. The aqua tile provided a feel of the ocean.
When he had enough playtimes in the water, she picked up his stouter body, slippery and wet, and held his naked skin to her own. His long limbs and muscular arms wrapped around her waist like a vise. “You’re getting strong than before,” Cat said.
His stocky neck supported a humanoid face partnered with salamander cuteness, as long as the sharp looking teeth didn’t rouse suspicion. His little penis and scrotum crushed up against her now soggy shirt. He hung out on the shelf of her hipbone. Forever Cat would remember this time. She gave him a loving kiss on his cheek. He didn’t seem to mind.
Cat imagined dreadful things. That he might stop breathing, I would die. That he might turn on her, I’d freak out. That the authorities might find him and take him for scientific experiments — that would tear her apart.
Never would she regret finding Little Guy. Keeping him in secret was calculated on her part. Bringing him across the bridge, so to speak, from his life into her life. Not a fool-hearted journey to exploit this new species she discovered. Rather she would keep him hidden for now.
There were no words, but her thoughts with images plagued her. As though she was in a dream state. Truly she slept because everything dear to her disappeared. All the beauty in her life had become tarnished. She refused to continue in her similar sad history putting her in a state of numbness.
Little Guy was someone who needed her, someone beyond language. Something new would come of her old patterns. It’s a decision, right? She’d cross yet another bridge and go beyond her limited thinking and broaden her awareness.
She remembered Little Guy in her arms. His gaze met her thoughts, which they often did. Some day she would release him, when he was older and stronger. Still she would have to release him back into the wild. She’d cross that other bridge later. But she wouldn’t think about that now with Little Guy in her arms.
The first time Shenser met Cat they were standing in the crowd of kids waiting for the ferry to take them to the island of the youth marine camp. They were all kids of varying ages from early grade school to high school, which many of the older kids acted as the camp counselors. They would spend the next two weeks together at this special marine environment summer camp. Many of the kids would go for two or three sessions during the summer.
The camp facility was on the island. Shenser stood in line, excited about the possibilities. The brochure showed pictures of the classroom and auditorium. There were classrooms with science labs, running seawater in the swimming pools and ponds. One of the largest aquariums in the region and a 900 foot pier with docking facilities and all the fun boats they’d ride in — even sailboats and huge yachts.
Shenser knew he was too young to scuba dive now, but he would learn later right here like his friend who was 12. That’s how he found out about this camp in the first place. He also looked at and dreamed over the brochure geared for older kids like his buddy. Shenser was only seven so he’d have to wait for that. But his friend told him the camp even had a dive compressor room.
Shenser looked around the line while he anxiously waited for the ferry. Most of the parents had already passed the kids off to the counselors. He saw a cute little girl about his age, and she waited quietly with her backpack on her back and held the brown lunch bag they handed out as everyone passed in their registration papers.
He and the other kids saw the ferry in the distance. Seizing the moment, he went up to the dark-haired girl with short wild hair sticking up in a jellied kind of a tomboy way, and politely introduced himself. He pointed to his nametag, “Hi, I’m Shenser. Are you from around here?
Her eyes widened then narrowed in one sudden motion. I’m from Sherman. My mom and dad drove me here. We were in the car forever She sighed impatiently. My name is Cat,” she said, “like a kitty.”
Shenser grinned at her comment. No doubt she got that introduction line from her mom or maybe her dad. Either way, she probably gets tired of explaining her animal name.
As the ferry drew closer, he found out she wasn’t so bad for being a girl. She held her own and was not a girly girl. She matched her haircut.
Shenser asked, “Do you have any other friends here at camp?
“No,” she said, but my first-grade teacher thought I’d love coming here since I am going to be a marine biologist in a few more years.” She stated matter of fact.
Shenser said, “Whoa, that’s amazing you already know what you want to be.” He rolled his eyes as if he thought that was a long shot.
“My mom says there’s no way I could know what I’ll be when I grow up even though I’ve told her I want to be a judge. She said I’d change my mind a million times over.”
“Maybe,” she said, but that’s what I’ve always wanted to be so I can track dolphins and sharks.”
The ferry pulled up, and the two continued talking about grownup plans as they stepped over the water below on to the slightly moving ferry. They were issued life jackets and instructed how to wear them. A camp counselor walked up and down the line to help with life jackets.
Neither one of them had ever been on a ferry before this day. The motion made Cat’s eyes grow wide again like two saucers. Shenser kept his cool to act brave around his new friend because she was a girl who might get scared.
The wind whipped the two as they found a seat outside and looked around the commuter ferry and the vast ocean. About ten minutes into the trip, the captain announced over the loud speaker, “We have friendly visitors welcoming all you campers to the area.” The ferry passed into deeper waters, and a school of dolphins made their appearance jumping and squealed along the side. Knowing the reaction they’d get. Sitting down the kids dug into their brown paper lunch bags and ate their sandwiches.
This boat ride was Cat’s first time out in the ocean. She had only played in the water from the shore prior to that point. But she was only six. Shenser, on the other hand, had been out on a sailboat with his mom and one of her old boyfriends last summer. That was fun, and it was a super big sailboat at that.
The captain continued over the loudspeaker telling different facts about the area and even some things to expect at the summer camp. They ate potato chips as he spoke. Lastly, they ate the cookie, except they swapped their cookies since the other camper had the best flavor. Cat loved the oatmeal raisin cookie while Shenser was partial to chocolate chip. They tasted homemade like each mother had baked them fresh.
They didn’t miss their mother’s yet. Though they might miss their cooking. Only time would tell. Cat said her father also liked to cook. Shenser said he didn’t have a dad. But if he did have a dad he’d probably like to cook, “because I like to cook.” Shenser said.
His mother was a physical therapist but mostly she was a psychic.”
“What’s a psychic? Cat asked.
“Oh, just someone who can talk to animals,”
“Then she’ll be able to talk to me,” Cat giggled.
“My mommy is a midwife and beautiful.
“Do you have to be pretty to be a midwife?”
“No,” Cat said, “I don’t think so. You just can’t be afraid of blood and things like that.”
“Do you have to be a wife?” Shenser asked again confused at what a midwife was.
“She helps people have babies,” she said. “I’ve seen puppies born before, and nobody is there to pull them out but for some reason people need help.” They both shook their heads dumb-founded. “What does your dad do when he’s not cooking? Shenser asked, laughing like he told a joke.
“He’s a Marine Biologist.”
“”So that’s why you want to be one.”
“Is not,” she said, “In fact, I’ve never even been out in the ocean before today. He’s always too busy to play. When I’m one, I’ll never be too busy to play. Never, never.”
She sighed and drew a picture on the glass to the inside cabin of the ferry. The fish she outlined made Shenser smile, and she saw his white teeth in the reflection.
“My mother is also an artist,” he said, “and she’s very pretty too.”
In over 45 minutes when they finally got off the boat with the other 250 people ranging in ages from 6 to 18, their knees were wobbly and trembled from all the riding. Even though they felt nauseous and lightheaded, they were immediately distracted. Smiling ear-to-ear they dropped their life jacket off in a huge bin.
It was quiet at first short of the sea sounds and waves crashing against the shore. Soon laughter filled the place and echoed off the rocks. The day was a typical day for summer, but standing in the shade almost seemed cold as they waited for instructions as the huge group to gathered together.
Cat trembled, and Shense rubbed his arms on each of his biceps and he made believe he was shivering, to poke fun at his new friend. Cat laughed. Shenser laughed too. On the way to the camp headquarters, they wanted to jump and run like the couple of kids that they were — but they held back.
Shenser was affected by a strange feeling that he experienced every time he went to this summer camp. And every year he’d see Cat again as they grew up together.